What if City Apps were more like this?
If there’s two things we love here at Humblebee; it’s the city of Gothenburg and usability! So we decided to take a look at city apps and their digital services, starting at home.
When using a service, we occasionally find ourselves thinking: "What if we had the opportunity to improve this experience? How would we make it?” As designers, we're lucky to possess tools to transform these thoughts into tangible ideas. It doesn’t always require a complete app redesign; sometimes, it can be as simple as a creative exercise. That's precisely what Monika Polus (Product Designer) and I did when we discovered the app ‘Anmäl Hinder’ (Report an obstacle) from the city of Gothenburg.
The purpose of the app is for users to report issues related to the lack of usability in public spaces and environments. To do so, users need to follow some simple steps, such as selecting the type of obstacle, providing a description, specifying its location, and attaching a photo. Additionally, users have the option to leave their contact information, in case its needed for gaining a deeper understanding of the reported issue.
Although well-intentioned, and good in many ways, the app can fall a little short in user-friendliness, for example misleading colour coding and a lack of information around steps required. The summary page is not comprehensive and if users want to edit the report before submitting it, they’re forced to retrace their steps. The lack of a confirmation page upon sending the report adds to the frustration.
In our mini redesign, we prioritised simplicity and clarity.
- Users start with a simple, intuitive interface, guiding them through the reporting process step by step.
- Clear instructions accompany each stage, eliminating confusion and ensuring users understand what's expected.
- The summary page now includes a detailed overview of the report, including the description and the precise location address.
- Users can easily edit any information without being sent back to square one.
- Upon sending a report, users are redirected to a confirmation page, providing assurance that their contribution has been received.
Looking at the bigger picture
As designers, curiosity is ingrained in our nature. This leads us to consistently explore alternative solutions, seeking inspiration to enhance our work. In this case, we analysed the digital services and products in our city Gothenburg, but also researched, explored and benchmarked other digital services & apps cities around the world offer their citizens.
This exploration lead us to some valuable insights:
- Cities are eager to encourage citizens to share their ideas for improving urban life.
- Generally, there are more ways for citizens to engage with their cities online than through dedicated apps.
Prompted by these findings, we asked ourselves: “What if we expand the app's capabilities by incorporating additional services?”
A City App Concept: Shape Your City
‘Shape Your City’ is our concept for an app empowering citizens to actively contribute to the improvement of their city.
Within this app, citizens can:
Users can propose innovative ideas for enhancing the city by providing a succinct yet comprehensive description. This involves naming the idea, offering a brief overview, and describing how the suggested improvement will directly benefit fellow residents.
Vote on improvements
Users can view a list of improvement ideas submitted by fellow residents and cast their votes for the ideas that resonate with them. Once an idea accumulates a certain threshold of votes, it enters a consideration phase by the city authorities.
Report safety concerns, Report an obstacle, Report on garbage issues
Various reporting features empower users to submit detailed reports on diverse issues throughout the city. Besides writing a description, users can include pictures and precise locations. These features will ensure that community concerns are swiftly addressed.
Comment on city plans
Just as users can do online, users can digitally comment on plans that are currently open for comment.
What do you think?
That was our take on a ‘Shape Your City’ app. Do you use a city app where you live? Maybe you’ve seen some good, useful examples of city app services? Maybe you’ve found some examples that you absolutely despise! Either way, drop me an email - I’d love to hear about them, as well as your feedback on our concept.